U.S. Sen. Rob Portman: Russia’s annexations are a sham and illegitmate

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2022

I condemn this latest illegitimate landgrab by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the strongest possible terms. These actions are just another sign of Russia’s increasing desperation as its war effort falters.

These illegal Russian claims on sovereign Ukrainian territory, coupled with President Putin’s nuclear threats and poorly executed mass mobilization, are frantic attempts to try to stop Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive. Russia is trying to claim sovereignty over territory that he barely controls — territory that he is losing every day. This will not help Russia’s war effort and only strengthen Western resolve.

This announcement, and the ‘referendum’ votes that preceded it in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts, are a sham and illegitimate.

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Just like Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine, this is a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, the Hague Regulations of 1907, and the fundamental right of sovereign territorial integrity. In addition, the “referendum” votes were clearly manipulated by Russia in order to manufacture an excuse to declare that the territory belongs to Russia and justify an illegal annexation.

Make no mistake: this is straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook from its illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea in 2014. Unfortunately for President Putin, this time Ukraine and its allies in the United States and Europe are ready, united, and prepared to defeat Russian aggression.

Russia’s actions are being rightly condemned by the Biden administration, the UN, and governments around the world. In the eyes of the international community, this ‘annexation’ will never be recognized and will never have legal standing. As Ukraine’s forces continue to liberate territory, Russia’s ‘annexation’ will continue to be exposed as the farce that it is. Therefore, it is important that the international community stand together to ensure the sovereign borders of sovereign nations, especially those under attack like Ukraine, are not only recognized but protected.

This is not an act of strength from Russia; it is an act of desperation and weakness. Now more than ever, we must surge support to Ukraine to ensure that Russia’s baseless claims of control over Ukrainian territory never become reality. Like many dictators before him, President Putin is trying to rewrite the borders of Europe with violence. We must ensure that he fails.

Rob Portman is a Republican and the junior U.S. senator representing Ohio. His office can be reached at 202-224-3353.